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    …And it’s very much alive!

    By Dendy Jarrett | (edited)



    Three years ago I wrote a Dear Musician called "Keep Music Alive."  In it, I referenced that music did not die the day Buddy Holly’s plane crashed; rather, it stayed very much alive.


    I penned that article because in early 2016 we lost so many great musicians. The truth is, we continue to lose great musicians. I doubt many of you realized that this past June 25th was the 10-year anniversary of Michael Jackson’s death. I was certainly very surprised to be reminded that it had already been 10 years! Why? Because I’m still listening to his music to this day!


    To advance that sentiment, much of the music I grew up with is coming back into favor now because of remakes by more contemporary artists. Even as I type, Weezer’s remake of Toto’s “Africa” is getting air-play, as is Bad Wolves' remake of the Cranberries’ “Zombie.” Oh, yes, and there’s “Clearly” by Grace VanderWaal that was originally a Johnny Nash song. There’s even a television show called Songland that shows the process of song writing in a “competition” format whereby  known artists will pick their next hits from competing contenders. It’s actually a pretty cool show.


    I noted in that original Keep Music Alive article that, when great musicians die or fade away, we're the ones who keep the music alive. Music becomes immortal through sharing—sharing the legacy, sharing the influence previous music has on current music, and sharing the joy of our favorite music with others.


    The tragedy of that plane crash in 1959, which caused the death of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and J.P. Richardson, a.k.a. “the Big Bopper,” was incalculable. The singers of “Peggy Sue” and “Come On Let’s Go” and “Donna” and “La Bomba” were gone. At that time, it was believed that Rock and Roll would never be the same. Ironically, the only reason Buddy Holly chartered the plane was because his laundry was dirty and he wanted to get to the next venue early so he’d have some clean clothes. Little did he know…. 


    Also ironic is that future country star Waylon Jennings was to have been on that flight, but he gave up his seat to “the Big Bopper” and was spared. Thirteen years after the crash, Don McLean wrote a song about the tragedy, “American Pie.” Next year will mark 50 years since the song was released, and it went to number 1 in 1972.  At the time, he had no idea that this epic 8.5 minute-long song would speak to a nation about change both to music and the underlying tone of political change. He later stated: “It was an indescribable photograph of America that I tried to capture in words and music.”


    I still hold to my thoughts in my original article…


    In American Pie, McClean says:

    “I can’t remember if I cried

    When I read about his widowed bride

    But something touched me deep inside

    The day the music died”


    I agree that music can touch all of us deep inside, but I’ll hang on to McLean's image of a red, white, and blue thumbs up and continue to keep the music alive. Remember this—people are mortal, but music is immortal. -HC-







    Dendy Jarrett is the Publisher and Executive Director of Harmony Central. He has been heavily involved at the executive level in many aspects of the drum and percussion industry for over 25 years and has been a professional player since he was 16. His articles and product reviews have been featured in InTune Monthly, Gig Magazine, DRUM! and Modern Drummer Magazines.


    Edited by Dendy Jarrett

    Sub Title: …And it’s very much alive!

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    I agree to all of the above. I never heard the reason Buddy Holly chartered the plane because he wanted to get to the next show and have time to clean clothes. Nice piece of trivia


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    The music lives on.  Joao Gilberto passed this week and his gifts to us will be played and enjoyed as long as there is a body to play a song.

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    And, if memory serves, McClean also suggested that Holly was Holy -


    "And, the three men I admire mostThe father, son and the holy ghostThey took the last train for the coastThe day the music died."

    Furthermore, knowing now that McClean's jester is none other than Bob Dylan, has he condemned the man for his music? I have a problem with that part of the song and, though I didn't then and still don't typically delve into musical personalities, McClean solicits an opinion to that end.


    To me, McClean seems to be dismissing the panorama of music in Holly's periphery and, most importantly, dismissing music going forward from "The day the music died." as being cloaked beneath Holly's shadow. Was McClean's (described) "indescribable photograph of America" his perspective when Holly died and, if so,  what of the decade+ of music between Holly's death and McClean's American Pie release? I think Even McClean can't deny that Holly was but a distant memory paling in greatness to the British Invasion that succeeded 50's rock and launched Boomer Music. 


    I do get it that he was painting a picture of a musician's place holder in time, as he did with Vincent for the sake of  another art form and its artist, so the kitchen pass is assumed, his song's solicited assumptions notwithstanding.


    American Pie, though, was a cause/effect form of writing and the Holly story supported the form of writing with great verbal visualizing. We could see his imagery.


    I'm a fan of Don McClean. I think of American Pie and his other thoughtful lyrics as word art,  on their respective simple and engaging melodies, reminiscent of the troubadour one can easily conjure up when listening to him.


    As far a music living or dying, McClean's irony in American Pie would almost ask us to dismiss his own music in the shadow of Holly, but we know now he's illustrating Holly and his music as a building block even he took advantage of.


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